Sunday, October 10, 2010
On Saturday I made a speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference on the issue of the Intercity Express Programme. I was especially speaking on lines 11-13 of the motion.
1 Conference notes that that the UK Government is due to take a decision on whether to
2 proceed with the Intercity Express Programme, intended to provide 882 new carriages
3 for a series of intercity routes, following the completion of the comprehensive spending
4 review in October 2010.
5 Conference welcomes the environmental, social and economic benefits of an efficient
6 and accessible public transport service, and supports the long-term electrification of the
7 railways as part of a modern rail network.
8 Conference recognises the importance of cross-border transport links between England
9 and Scotland and that direct rail services connecting London to the north and the north
10 east of Scotland bring direct economic benefit to these regions.
11 Conference is therefore concerned at the report of the Review of the Intercity Express
12 Programme by Sir Andrew Foster which suggests that long distance routes to Inverness
13 and Aberdeen could be served by connecting trains rather than through-services.
14 Conference believes that the loss of the through-service from London to Aberdeen and
15 Inverness would be a significant deterrent to train travel for these regions and would
16 represent a serious reduction in the quality of cross-border services, with a resultant
17 negative impact on Scottish business competitiveness.
18 Conference therefore calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to protect the
19 economic value of the north and north east regions of Scotland by maintaining direct rail
20 services between London and Aberdeen and Inverness and to reject any other
21 diminution of cross-border public transport services between England and Scotland.
I started by saying that although through the years I had always addressed conference as a Northern Irish man this was the first time I have addressed them as a member of the Northern Irish party. It was as a result that travelling from Northern Ireland and many long cross country trips that I had learnt one important issue about connecting services, they do not always connect you to you final destination on the same day you started out.
A previous speaker had already pointed out the access issues and this is true for all passengers. This is true for all passengers but can affect those that are elderly and infirm the most. If you add in a rail replacement service at the same time as a non-though train this can slowly lead people to not want to let the train take the strain.
As I concluded I pointed out that in 2003 we stood to increase the rail service in Scotland including the Bathgate to Airdrie extension which means so much to the people of West Lothian. We should similarly be working to increase provision not reduce it, therefore I urged conference to accept the motion.